Law In Cyberspace

There are laws that address cyber crimes in cyberspace. But there are still some problems in enforcement and prosecution. Imagine a hacker from China who broke into a workstation owned by a European company in the Philippines  which is then used to hack an Australian’s blog which is hosted in a server in the USA. Which court has jurisdiction? Which country’s law shall be applied? Who can represent who? A Philippine lawyer cannot appear in American or Australian courts unless admitted in those country’s bar.

I’ve been to Reyna Elena’s blog a few days ago and read that his site’s traffic had been rerouted. Based on his description, it sounds so much like a redirect hijack. It is not yet confirmed though. (Who’s going to confirm it anyway? Certainly not the hosting company.) On the other side of the blogosphere, I came across two Filipino bloggers who got their sites hacked and consequently, their ads replaced with that of the intruder’s. These acts are clearly illegal in most jurisdictions.

So who did these things and why? Crackers. Not the crunchy thing you eat when you’re hungry and there’s no food around, but those people who eat blogs for breakfast. Actually, you might have heard of them as hackers though I refuse to use that term here as it is simply erroneous and misleading. Hackers originally meant brilliant people in computers and computing such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, to name a few. I’m certainly not about to honor network intruders by calling them hackers.

As to why, let’s look at Reyna’s blog first. His blog boasts a tremendous amount of traffic. As you might already know, this traffic can be converted; so the intruders weapon of choice? Web traffic redirection. They probably did it by breaking into Reyna’s installation and installed server-side scripts to the end that Reyna’s traffic is counted as that of the intruder’s. In short, they benefited from Reyna’s traffic.

The other two blogs are a different story. The owners of those blogs earn substantial AdSense revenues. So the crackers took a different approach. Instead of redirecting traffic, they replaced the original ads of the blog owners with their own ads so that clicks and impressions will be credited to their account. Smart.

Crackers or network intruders today have evolved from their immature beginnings. In the past, they would break into systems and tell the world that they’ve done it by defacing websites. It was sort of like their trophy. Not unlike a kid spray painting a wall with words like: “Hacker Doodz was here”. Today, their approach is more business like. They’re in it for the money. Most bloggers who get hacked probably would not even know it. Why would they be so loud when doing so means the end of their passive income? The only reason the blogger above learned of the ad swap is because he noticed that the ad’s color became slightly different. Good for him to notice that.

In cases like this, complex conflict of laws needs to be applied which is why a lot don’t even bother. This will hopefully be remedied in the future but at the moment, we just have to be vigilant.

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